It’s fair to say that the outlook for London’s theatres has been a little gloomy throughout all of this. Their doors have remained closed since lockdown began in March, and while other industries have made a start on their return – from retail to hospitality – it’s been harder for the theatre world to envisage a comeback.
Well, in the latest dramatic move from the government, theatres can now start setting their sights on a return, with a reopening date of August 1 shared ambitiously in the prime minister’s press conference today (Friday July 17).
Boris Johnson told the public that remaining leisure settings would be allowed to reopen from Saturday August 1, including bowling alleys, ice-skating rinks, casinos and, of course, theatres.
‘From August 1, we will restart live indoor performances to a live audience, subject to the success of pilots, and we will pilot larger gatherings with a view to a wider reopening in the autumn,’ said Johnson.
Secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport Oliver Dowden confirmed the news on social media, saying the return of indoor performances at theatres would be contingent on pilots being held with the London Symphony Orchestra and other organisations.
Andrew Lloyd Webber has also been working with the government on trialling socially distanced performances at the London Palladium.
However, before you go getting hyped for a summer West End show, the industry still faces many challenges. Most notably, that cast and crew for current shows will have been unable to rehearse together during social distancing, and many theatres say they’ll struggle to operate when faced with half-capacity audiences and reduced ticket revenue.
Having said that, the Troubadour in Wembley Park is among the theatres slated for a return in August, with the ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ musical set to hit the stage on August 25.
Fancy a show from home? It’s the final week of the National Theatre Live’s free-to-stream performances.